The Project: Metallica’s upcoming concert-narrative hybrid feature film Metallica Through the Never, which debuts exclusively in 3-D Imax on Sept. 27 and releases wide on Oct. 4.
The Panel: The four members of Metallica — James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammet, and Robert Trujillo — were joined by Through the Never director/co-writer Nimród Antal (Kontroll), producer Charlotte Huggins (Journey to the Center of the Earth), and the film’s star, Dane DeHaan (who was also at Comic-Con for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, in which he plays Harry Osborn). The panel was moderated by the L.A. Times‘ Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre.Footage screened: The panel featured the world premiere of the full theatrical trailer (in 3-D, natch), which included a bit more of the narrative (DeHaan’s character Trip is a roadie on a mission for a package, when he gets in a car accident and winds up entwined in a massive street battle between angry protester-types and cops in riot gear) as well as some additional concert scenes. The panel also featured a longer clip from the movie that gave us a better look at the street fighting, including a guy in a gas mask on horseback who lassos and strings up some poor dude over a lamp post.
We also got a more detailed view of the huge, gonzo stage Metallica is playing on (Huggins referred to it as “the aircraft carrier”). It is decorated with symbols from throughout Metallica’s history, like Doris (the Lady Justice statue on the In Justice For All… cover art) and the crosses from Master of Puppets. On the aircraft carrier, the crosses pop up from the stage floor and are also emblazoned on coffins suspended above the band. The coffin crosses also contain videos of people who appear trapped inside. As I said — gonzo. Also, pretty freakin’ cool.
The Big Revelations: No real heart-stopper, but we did get an expanded song list from the movie, adding a few more songs to those we heard in the teaser trailer ( “Master of Puppets” and “Wherever I May Roam”), including “One,” “Enter Sandman,” and “Cyanide.”
Snap Judgment: The trick is how well the melding of this narrative and the concert footage will work. Antal said in shooting the movie, he was often surprised by the organic opportunities that arose to meld the two elements. But until we actually sit down and digest this project as a whole, it’s hard to evaluate things like the cops beating billy clubs on their riot shields to the rhythm of live Metallica. The band seems really invested in the project, though, and there’s no question that fans of loud, huge Metallica music will find something to love.
Most Incisive Audience Question: Early on someone asked when Metallica will put out another record. Ulrich said that they’ve spent the past two years so buried in this film that they haven’t really started working on another studio album. But he also quite clearly stated that once they’re done promoting the movie this fall, they’re ready to get to work. “We’ll have run out of excuses for not doing it by then,” Ulrich said. “2014 will be all about making a new Metallica record.”
Least Welcome Surprise: The panel raffled off some tickets to the secret and very intimate Metallica show being held somewhere in town later in the evening, but when McIntyre read off the winning number, the growing chorus of groans from the audience made it abundantly clear that no one had actually been issued raffle tickets when they entered the hall. Comic-Con staffers quickly ran through the seats and issued them, but things started to get a little dicey for a minute there. “Hey, don’t look at me,” Ulrich said as the discontent swelled. “I’m just the drummer.” Things were sorted in the end, and a few lucky fans were in for a special treat (check back at EW.com for our report from that show).